Spring/Summer – 2008 Newsletter


Jewels and Gems from The Film-Makers’ Coop Comments written by Janne Kristensen, Intern at the FMC from the University of Copenhagen, Spring 2008
With the FMCs’ archive of 5,000 + films and new media, the monthly screenings at C.U. is an opportunity for a diverse group of curators to discover unseen treasures and give them new live. As stated on FMCs’ website: “We don’t want false, polished, slick films – we prefer them rough, but alive, we don’t want rosy films, – we want them the color of blood” . For the viewer the programs offer interesting perspectives on important cultural issues and movements and put emphazise on underexposed, experimental films and film makers. It is a unique chance for any individual and film person interested in challenging and esthetically beautiful works. I therefore think that FMCs’ monthly screenings at C.U. are a great way to spend the humble amount of five dollars admission fee and enjoy a one-of-a-kind viewing experience.

Anyone lucky enough to be around downtown New York City on the 4th Monday of every month has a unique opportunity to experiencing some of the rare avant-garde films from the archives of The Film Makers’ Cooperative (FMC). The programs are curated by members of FMCs’ Board of Directors titled “Jewels and Gems from The Film-Makers’ Coop” have since March 2006 exhibited at The Collective Unconscious (C.U.) on 279 Church Street, TriBeCa. C.U. is an experimental theatre holding 70 – 90 spectators. It has hosted a wide range of art performances, film screenings, productions and rehearsals of mainly experimental character over the years. The cozy theatre space with it’s squeaky, wooden floors and get-together atmosphere seems like the perfect venue for avant-garde film viewing. Being a Danish graduate student from the department of Modern Culture at the University of Copenhagen doing my internship in NY at FMC this spring, I have had the opportunity to attend and take part in the exhibition process of two of the film programs. The screenings differ with the curators each month and has a wide appeal. Ghen Zando-Dennis’ latest show highlighted the early films of multi-media artist Leslie Thornton, earlier themes have been focusing on for instance “Avant-gardening: Post-modern Representations of Nature on Film”, “The Inventing Space of Cinema”, “For Life Against The War…Again!” or the work of specific underground film movements.

Taka Iimura: Artworks (related to film) The Film-Maker’ Cooperative is now selling selected artwork by Taka Iiman through the FMC website. These art works are all related to films or videos Taka has produced since the early 1960s, some are enlargements of his films frames on silk-screen, a script of the film on celluloid sheet, film-loops in transparent cube sculptures and DVD-screen out of film can, etc., all I consider a unique work by itself, I mean an art piece. All works are signed, and are numbered. Takahiko Iimura

Canned DVD, 7in. DVD screen housed in 16mm film can with a window opened for the screen. The can is painted all black, diameter,10.3/4 x height, 2in.(27.5 x 5cm), with 3 titles. DVD player is not included. (For more imformation contact FMC.)

Women Experimental Films and Panel
Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution

Comments by Janne Kristensen, intern from the University of Copenhagen at the Film Makers’ Coop, Spring 2008.

In connection with the current exhibition Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution, an exiting film event took place at the Contemporary Art Center P.S.1 this March 1st.
Exlusive 16 mm films by women experimental film directors were screened in the Third Floor Main Gallery, followed by a panel with filmmakers and contributors to the first anthology entirely dedicated to avant-garde female filmmakers; Women’s Experimental Cinema (2007).

The program was coordinated by M.M. Serra, Executive Director of the Film Makers’ Coop, and presented an amazing selection of classic as well as more unknown avant-garde films emphasizing a wide range of political, bodily, sexual, cultural and poetic issues.

The film screening started off with a beautiful double projection of Barbara Rubin’s remarkable Christmas on Earth (1963). Addressing love, sex and role reversal in its own explicit way, the film’s dynamic visual fragments explore bodies in various sexual actions. Then followed Marie Menken’s poetic Moonplay (1964-1966), Carolee Schneemann’s shocking war images Viet-Flakes (1965) and Barbara Hammer’s X-ray footage of the human body, Sanctus (1990). Thereafter: Marjorie Keller’s documentary film, Herein (1991), Peggy Ahwesh’s found footage-pornography work The Color of Love (1994) and Abigail Child’s montage of love scenes and musical clips, Covert Action Is This What You Were Born For? (Part 4) (1984).

The spacious, tent-like gallery was filled with an overwhelming turnout of an exited audience seizing the opportunity to see these rare film works, and the event indeed suggested that people surrender themselves to the darkness and atmosphere of the haunting visual images of the big screen and forget about everything else. – Quite an accomplishment given the fact that the event was located in the middle of an art center and some people naturally walked in and out.
After the screening the panel with filmmaker-participants Carolee Schneemann and Peggy Ahwesh, critics Ara Osterweil, Melissa Ragona and editor Robin Blaetz discussed the issue of women’s experimental filmmaking. The discussion took its starting point from the critical

This is a photo of Carolyn L Kane doing research at the New York Film-Makers’ Cooperative. Ms. Kane is a Phd Candidate in the Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University and she is currently writing her dissertation on “Synthetic Color in Computer Art and Video Signal Processing between 1968 and 1978.”

In this visit to the Coop, Ms. Kane is watching Poem Fields #2 (1966, color) by pioneering computer artist Kenneth Knowlton and avant-garde experimental filmmaker, Stan Vanderbeek. Ms. Kane has found the archives at the Film-Makers’ Cooperative especially helpful for her research because, as we can see in this photo, she is able to view the work in its original format.

For information about Ms. Kanei’s research, please visit: http://homepages.nyu.edu/~clk267/

“Towards the end of 2006, MM Serra asked me to curate a Collective UnConscious film evening for the Coop. The two of us had been talking for months about what we could do as artists who wanted to respond to the horrible war in Iraq that had been raging for three years. At that moment, I felt that it was time to show the world how concerned we all were. I put out a call for work. 25 films arrived by mail and by hand from all over the country.

The theatre was packed. So many people asked about the work over the next few days, that I decided there was absolutely nothing I could do but produce a compilation DVD. We finished the disc last year. Our list of purchasers and presenters includes Harvard, Bard, the Pacific Film Archives, Hamilton College, Fordham, Catholic, University of Wisconsin, NYU, California College of the Arts and more. All the proceeds for sales and rentals are donated by the artists to the Coop. Who knew that a project like this would be so relevant for so long. What I wouldn’t give for a time in our lives for such films to become obsolete!”

Lynne Sachs
Filmmaker, FMC Board-member since 1996

“In 1967, with the Vietnam War escalating wildly, an invitation was issued to filmmakers to create works running under three minutes in protest against the accumulating carnage. The original organizers chose the rubric For Life, Against the War, and eventually compiled sixty films from the likes of Robert Breer, Shirley Clarke, Storm De Hirsch, Ken Jacobs, Larry Jordan, Jonas Mekas, Stan Vanderbeek, and many others. Now, decades later, an invitation to protest yet another war seemed sadly urgent, inspiring Lynne Sachs to ring the clarion once “. . . Again.” The response was overwhelming, with submissions from several generations of artists unified by a singular disgust for the war in Iraq and the foreign policy that perpetuates it. Compiled with works from the overtly angry to the formally forceful, For Life, Against the War boldly announces that artists can take a stand, again and again.” — Steve Seid, Curator, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Art Museum

“Iraq is not Vietnam, as the Bush administration and other Republicans have generously taken pains to remind us over the last half decade, but good luck trying to convince today’s artists of that. Not the kind of artists typically touted at white-shoe galleries, of course, too busy creating precious objects for clueless investors: Far more potent demonstrations of protest and disgust emerge from the rag-tag networks of micro-budgeted experimental filmmakers. With little or no market for experimental filmmaking, the scene consists of only the most devoted individuals, with nothing to lose from saying whatever they wish. The art they create can thereby be rough or polished, face-slappingly blunt or poetically subtle, stridently collectivist or stewed in lonely isolation. For Life Against the War . . . Again, a recent omnibus produced in response to Iraq, includes all these extremes, but nevertheless coalesces into a potent time capsule of how today’s war has churned our inner lives….” Ed Halter, Village Voice

Filmmaker Participants on DVD: Kevin Barry, Bosko Blagojevic, Elle Burchill, Jim Costanzo, Bradley Eros, Jeanne Finley, Martha Gorzycki, Alfred Guzzetti, Barbara Hammer, Ken Jacobs, Douglas Katelus, Lynn Marie Kirby, Ernie Larsen, David Leitner, Les Leveque, Cynthia Madansky, Rohesia Hamilton Metcalfe, Sheri Milner, John Muse, Martha Rosler, Lynne Sachs, MM Serra, Jeff Silva, Jeffrey Skoller, Mark Street, Cara Weiner, Lili White, Artemis Willis.

Film-makers’Coop Executive Director: MM Serra DVD Curator: Lynne Sachs DVD Project Manager: Lili White DVD Tech Programmer: Bosko Blagojevic
Lynne Sachs www.lynnesachs.com

Seth Mitter working at the Film-Makers' Cooperative.

Janne Kristensen at the Collective Unconscious, "Jewels & Gems". Screenings on the fourth Monday of every month.

Working at the Film-Makers' Cooperative: Janne Kristensen, James Matthews, Matt Black, and M. M. Serra.

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